VISO SCORES TWO TOP-10 FINISHES, KANAAN AND SATO EACH EARN A FIFTH IN FIRESTONE TWIN 275s
FT. WORTH, TEXAS – JUNE 11, 2011 – KV Racing Technology – Lotus had its strongest performance since joining the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2008 last night in the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas.
The Firestone Twin 275s consisted of two races each running 114 laps with half the normal championship points awarded in each race. E. J. Viso, #59 PSVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus scored two top-10 finishes placing seventh in race No. 1 and 10th in race No. 2 on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway tri-oval. Teammates Tony Kanaan, #82 GEICO – KV Racing Technology – Lotus, was 11th and fifth while Takuma Sato, #5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus, finished fifth and 12th. All three KVRT – Lotus drivers contested two races at night for the first time.
Viso started 19th in the first race, but was on the move from the drop of the green flag. Showing determination, but also driving a smart race he quickly made his way through the field picking up 12 positions to earn his first top-10 finish of the 2011 season.
For the second race the field was gridded based on a draw with each driver turning a Firestone tire to see his grid position. Viso ended up 29th out of the 30 cars. Undaunted, he proceeded to repeat his previous performance and charged through the field. By the end of the second race he had improved an addition 19 positions (an incredible total of 31 for the night), led his first laps of the season and earned his second top-10 finish of the year.
“I am pretty happy with the result tonight,” Viso said. “It was great to finish in the top-10 in both races especially coming from so far behind (19th and 29th). I want to thank my team, it has been a rough start to the season, but we always knew that we had the potential and finally I was able to repay them with a good finish. In the second race it was tough starting in the last row, but I was able to gain 19 places and it was a lot of fun out there. With the race being shorter than normal though, it was hard to catch the guys up front. I am looking forward to Milwaukee next weekend. I think we will also be fast there. It’s a short and fun place where a lot of car control is needed. Once again thanks to all my sponsors, especially PDVSA and my crew for all their hard work.”
Viso contested his fourth and fifth races in Texas, Prior to this evening his best showing in Texas was an 11th place finish last year (his oval best finish is a third at Iowa last season). With this evening’s performance the 26-year-old Venezuelan may have finally shaken the bad luck that has plagued his 2011 season. He has now had three strong finishes in the last four races placing 13th in Brazil to go with tonight’s showings. Viso earned 13 points in the first race and 10 in the second for a total of 23 points. Although he remains in 20th in the standings, he is only 20 points out of 10th place.
Kanaan started a season high sixth in the first race, but handling problems soon saw him drop to 10th place. Always the fighter, Kanaan continued to battle and managed a solid 11th place showing in the evening’s opening event.
During the halftime drawing for gird position for the second race, fortune smiled on Kanaan as he drew the pole position. Never one to waste an opportunity, Kanaan held the lead for the first 38 laps, his first of the 2011 season, before dropping to second. He settled into fifth place shortly after the first round of pit stops and while unable to challenge the leaders, Kanaan drove very smart, strong race the remainder of the way.
“We got lucky with the draw for race two,” Kanaan said. ”After race one I knew that we knew I didn’t quite have the speed of some of the other guys. We changed the car quite a bit between races and I liked the changes we made…the only problem is that everyone else had time to make changes, too. But hey, anytime you get out of Texas in one piece it’s a good race…and we are still fifth in the championship race, so we’ll take it.”
Kanaan made his 10th and 11th starts at TMS giving him 138 consecutive IndyCar starts, which ties him with Scott Sharp for the series record (all-time record for consecutive starts is held by KVRT – Lotus co-owner Jimmy Vasser with 211). The 36-year-old Brazilian has finished in the top-10 in all but two races here in Texas with seven top-five showings including five podiums with one win, in June of 2004. Kanaan has had a very impressive start to the 2011 season. He has finished in the top-10 in five of the first seven races (counting Texas as two races) with three top-five showings and a podium performance (third at St. Petersburg). Kanaan earned 24 points tonight, tied for the team high, but dropped one place in the standings and now sits fifth in the championship race with 159 points. He is just 10 points out of third.
Sato started an IZOD IndyCar career oval high fourth for the first of the twin 275s and drove the best oval race of his career. He was never lower than sixth and got as high as third. Sato showed patience and the ability to attack and defend at the appropriate times. The fifth place finish was an IndyCar career oval high for Sato and tied his IndyCar career best finish which he first achieved at the 2011 season opener in St. Petersburg..
In the second race, Sato was also a victim of the draw with the 25th staring spot. Never-the-less, with his confidence high from the fifth place finish in race one, he slowly, but surely worked his way through the field and by the half way point was sitting in 12th place. Sato engaged in several furious battles throughout the remainder of the contest, but managed to hold station and earned his second consecutive solid oval finish.
Commenting on the race Sato said, “I want to thank the entire KVRT – Lotus team. It was a great weekend and we achieved a strong result. The first race was solid. The balance was not great at the start of the race and I lost some positions, but I gained them back later, which was exciting. The second race was really crazy. I started from the back of the pack, but I got through. It was difficult to gain many positions because there were no cautions, but .I enjoyed having to fight back. I had a couple of moments while battling other cars, but I am very pleased with where we finished today.
Sato contested just his 23rd and 24th IndyCar races, 10th and 11th on an oval and second and third at TMS. Prior to tonight the 34-year-old from Japan had a best oval finish of 12th at Motegi last year. Sato has opened the 2011 season strong. In addition to tonight’s fifth and 12th place finishes and the fifth at St. Petersburg, he has an eighth place performance at Brazil where he led 23 laps (his first in an IndyCar) before being forced to pit for a splash of fuel. Sato earned 24 points tonight, tied for the team high and more importantly, picked up four places in the standings moving him back into the top-10 in 10th place.
Nest up for KVRT – Lotus is the Milwaukee 225, June 17-19, on the Milwaukee Mile in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The race will be will be broadcast live on ABC beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET